High-quality protein powders are more popular than ever, but they're also being used by a broader range of people than ever. A post-workout shake isn't just for a bodybuilders’ road to a competition. Everyone can benefit from adequate protein and in every age range. In this blog, we explain why it's important to supplement with protein and which protein source is best for which goal.
Why protein is important for you
Although most people use a protein powder post-workout to aid in muscle recovery and growth, it can be incredibly beneficial as an anti-aging supplement. This is because as you get older (starting from age 30!) [*]. your muscle tissues start to break down – also known as sarcopenia – and here’s where a protein powder comes in. In addition to training, and specifically resistance training [*], it can help maintain muscle mass and slows down age-related muscle loss in older adults [*].
But protein is so much more than only muscle related. Besides the structural component of muscle and other tissues in the body, proteins are used to produce hormones and enzymes [*]. Animal and plant protein supplements have been well studied for various health conditions.
Protein – Which is best for your personal goal?
To determine which protein is best for your personal goal, we need to explain the concept of amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of a protein - which are divided into essential and non-essential amino acids. Non-essential amino acids your body makes itself. Essential amino acids (EAAs), as the name implies, are essential because they cannot be produced by your body. Food is the only source of them. Complete protein supplements contain all nine essential amino acids, giving you a balanced mix of amino acids.
Individually, EAAs act on different pathways in the body. Each of the protein supplements below contains one to three essential amino acids more, less or in higher amounts than the others and is therefore suitable for a different purpose. Let's take a look at what the best protein sources are for your personal goal.
Whey protein: exercise and physical performance
Whey has a higher biological value than plant-based proteins, which means they contain enough amino acids to form all the proteins your body needs. The protein found in whey is of exceptionally high quality because it's a complete amino acid profile – and, it contains the highest amount of Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s). These are three essential amino acids that are particularly important for muscle growth and exercise performance [*], [*]. What makes whey protein the most ideal protein supplement for:
- muscle growth
- prevention of muscle loss in age
- training performance
- recovery after exercise
Plant protein: a plant-focused lifestyle
For the vegetarians and vegans among us, a hemp, brown rice and pea protein are well-studied protein sources. With proper combination from more than one source, plant proteins contain all nine essential amino acids. As a result, they can provide similar benefits to proteins from animal sources. [*] Studies done with single plant protein sources have shown that:
- Hemp protein improves blood pressure [*] and decreased inflammation. [*]
- Rice protein effect on lowering cholesterol [*] and the glycemic response. [*]
- Pea protein lowers blood pressure [*] and blood sugar levels. [*]
NoordCode Pure Plant Protein is a blend of pea, hemp and brown rice protein. The combination of these three makes it a complete, balanced profile of essential amino acids. One serving of Pure Plant Protein consists of 60% protein. And this 60% is highly absorbable protein.
Because NoordCode Pure Plant Protein is designed for people following the keto diet, it contains MCT powder, which helps increase ketone levels, boosts energy and prevents blood sugar spikes.
Collagen protein: anti-aging and sleep
About a third out of all the protein in your body is made up of collagen. It is found in your bones, muscles, skin, intestines, tendons, heart, eyes, brain and between your cells. As you age, you lose collagen. That's why it's important to complement it through nutrition. And with a collagen supplement you can be sure that you get enough. But collagen is more than a supplement that supports a lack of collagen in the body.
Collagen contains a high level of the amino acid glycine, which acts as an anti-inflammatory and a deterrent in necrotic cell death. Glycine also works together with proline and lysine to build up connective tissues. And, glycine plays a big role in sleep quality. It promotes production of serotonin, a necessary precursor for the sleep hormone melatonin. Studies have shown that people perform better the next day after taking 3 grams of glycine the night before. Finally, glycine lowers the body temperature – so when taken at night, it improves sleep quality.
Other anti-aging benefits of supplementing with collagen are:
- Skin health [*]
- Blood sugar control and decreased blood pressure [*]
- Joint and connective tissue health [*], [*]
- Bone health [*]
NoordCode Pure Collagen is derived from French grass-fed cows.The highly effective hydrolysis process preserves the nutritional value and makes this a highly absorbable protein. One serving of Pure Collagen consists of 90% protein. Its purity and optimal protein ratio have been tested in an independent laboratory. It is without added flavorings, sweeteners and preservatives.
What to look for when buying a protein supplement
After you have selected your personal choice of protein, there are other things to consider when selecting a protein supplement.
Look for clean ingredients
Sweeteners, artificial flavors, food coloring, fillers and thickeners are often used in protein powders, some containing more of them than others. There are exceptions, but generally you want to look for protein powders with fewer ingredients on the label, or make sure you understand what the ingredients are.
Choose a protein powder that is safe
If you buy from a European manufacturer, you can almost be sure that what is on the label will match what is in the supplement. This is due to the very strict regulations of the European Union. And if you are in doubt, always ask for third party testing done for contaminants, heavy metals and amino acid scores.
With a proper combination of sources, vegetable proteins may provide similar benefits as protein from animal sources. The completeness, digestibility and bioavailability of amino acids, is leading, whether from a plant or animal source. [*] Essential amino acids act on different pathways in the body. Each of the protein supplements discussed contain one to three essential amino acids more, less or in higher amounts than the others and you should choose one that is most suitable for your personal needs. When choosing your plant or animal protein, always look for a clean, low-carb formula.